Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Farewell from Nowhere was Maximov’s fourth novel, and the first major work he wrote after leaving his native Russia. His first novel, Zhiv chelovek (1962; A Man Survives, 1963), earned for him international recognition and established him among the literary elite of the Soviet Union. His domestic standing was lost, however, when he violated the publishing ban on his third novel, Sem dnei tvoreniia (1973; The Seven Days of Creation, 1974), a blatant denunciation of Soviet Communism. Maximov was expelled from the Writers Union and banished from the U.S.S.R. He settled in Paris, and there wrote Farewell from Nowhere, his attempt “to paint all of Russia.”

Though not accorded equal stature with Fyodor Dostoevski or Leo Tolstoy, Maximov is credited with continuing the tradition of the great nineteenth century Russian novelists by his epic sense of the human struggle for physical and spiritual liberation. The ideas and images in Farewell from Nowhere have prompted associations with another expatriate novelist and a contemporary of Maximov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who also was exiled for criticizing the Soviet system. Their struggle for uncensored expression finally began to yield rewards that, ironically, have benefited writers other than themselves. For example, early in 1987 it was announced that a novel by Anatoli Rybakov would be published in serial form in a Soviet journal. Critical, as Farewell from Nowhere is, of Soviet life during the Stalinist era, the book had twice before been denied domestic publication.